What is Drexel Furniture?
Based in the foothills of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Drexel Heritage Furnishings Inc. has been producing furniture for almost a century. A subsidiary since 1986 of Masco Corp., the world’s largest furniture manufacturer, Drexel Heritage is also a retailer of home furnishing accessories.
Where did Drexel Furniture Come From?
The Drexel Furniture Co. was founded in 1903 in Drexel, about five miles east of Morganton, North Carolina. At the time this community consisted of little more than a railroad siding built to accommodate a sawmill and flour mill. Both enterprises were operated by Samuel Huffman, who with five Morganton businessmen founded the company. Their initial investment of $14,000 went towards erecting a factory and installing furniture-making machinery within.
Drexel Furniture History 1903-1950
Drexel Furniture Company was established on November 10, 1903 in Drexel, North Carolina. Although Samuel Huffman managed the enterprise, he and five other men founded the business with an investment of $14,000. Drexel’s rich history of crafting quality furniture began in 1903 when their first product was a bed, bureau and washstand suite made from native oak and sold for $14.50, wholesale. From that very first suite produced, Drexel Heritage has focused on customers completing their homes with classic furniture that has a timeless beauty. Because of this, Drexel furniture has an irrefutable reputation for superior design, underscored today by the fact that Drexel Heritage is sold only in the finest furniture stores and design studios in the country
By 1935, Sam Huffman died, and his son Robert O. Huffman became president.
The younger Huffman made several changes in operations, including manufacturing medium-priced furniture instead of low-priced and spending more on advertising. By 1950, Drexel had grown from a small factory of fifty workers who made dressers and washstands to being a leading manufacturer in traditional and modern furniture.
As early as the 1930s, Drexel Heritage employed dedicated staff designers as one of the first furniture companies to commit fulltime resources to style and design. This early designer team created a top-selling collection that was influenced by the demand for reproductions of famous English cabinetmakers and inspired by French designs. Called Touraine, this Louis XV-inspired bedroom and dining room group was widely popular for several decades, is considered to be one of the industry’s first well-known success stories and continues to be highly sought-after by collectors. Within a few years and into the 1950s, much of that editorial coverage actually featured Drexel Heritage, as we increasingly became known as a leading manufacturer of traditional, transitional and modern furniture.
Drexel Furniture History 1951- 1990
The company began partnering with other manufacturers to create new product lines. In 1951, for instance, Drexel acquired Table Rock Furniture and Heritage Furniture Company, and in 1956, Morganton Furniture Company. By 1957, Drexel employed 2,300 workers, and its furniture was sold nationwide in approximately 2,500 stores.
In 1960, Drexel Furniture became Drexel Enterprises, Inc., and in 1961, the company merged with Southern Desk Company to produce furniture and supplies for libraries, schools, and churches. In 1968 U.S. Plywood Champion Papers purchased Drexel Enterprises, and the company became Drexel Heritage Furnishings, Inc.
In 1971 Drexel expanded its product line once again to include high-end Mediterranean style furniture and furniture for interior living space. In 1977 Drexel Heritage was sold to investment bank Dominick International Corporation and retail sales increased drastically.
Interior design in the 1980s was marked by words such as sophistication, grace, splendor, and perhaps most of all, elegance. With careful planning and a discriminating selection of distinguished furnishings, Drexel helped customers create elegance in many different styles of rooms. For some, it meant finding inspiration in French, English and Asian influences and mixing pine, oak, black chinoiserie, maple and wrought iron together in one home to complete an individual look of sophistication. In 1986, Drexel Heritage became a branch of Masco Corporation, which became one of the country’s biggest furniture manufacturers by the late 1980s.
Drexel Furniture History 1990’s-present
For many decades Drexel manufactured and sold furniture in the U.S. and overseas. Drexel maintained partnerships with various hotels, the U.S. State Department, and government agencies across the globe. In 1994, Drexel Heritage maintained ten factories in North Carolina and one in South Carolina. By 2004 Drexel Heritage Furniture, Inc. was based in High Point and employed 1,300 workers across the state. Today, Drexel Heritage Furniture Industries, Inc is one of the leading furniture manufacturers in the world. And one of the brands we at Back N The Day see a lot of here locally at Estate Sales, Auctions and more.
Like you, time has taught Drexel to hone on their keen ability to know when to say yes to trends and when to hold true to traditional classics – and more importantly, how to overlay the two, creating a look that is fresh yet timeless.
We almost always have Drexel pieces in stock. Contact us and we would be happy to look for a specific piece if we don’t have it stock.
Side Note: While we are not certified to give insurance appraisals, we would be glad to help you out and give you an estimate for a fee.